Recently I was served a bowl of half-cooked, dry oatmeal at a breakfast cafe. I wondered how it was possible this bowl made it from the cook to the waiter to my table. Surely, somebody should have noticed. So I asked for a manager and was told they weren’t currently available.
It’s sad how few managers are on duty these days. Whenever I see a long line at a register or someone stocking napkins instead of helping fill coffee cups, I wonder just who thought self-management was the right model for a customer-experience business. Whether it’s a hotel, restaurant or professional services firm, the lack of good management is ruining so many great brands out there.
Even worse is when these organizations have a manager: but one who is woefully unprepared.
When you see a well run organization, you’re sure to find many things. Sufficient resources, good training and a culture that’s focused on customer results. But amongst all the hard working people, you’re also going to find a critical resource: A good manager. Someone with a strong sense of duty, excellent communication skills and versatile leadership traits. Someone who understands their job isn’t to “catch” problems but “prevent” them from ever leaving the kitchen in the first place. Someone who doesn’t hide in an office but works alongside the team. A knowledgeable and experienced professional who sees their company’s performance first hand in order to coach and fix and support their people in real time. A person who doesn’t disappear when there’s feedback to be heard. Someone whose job isn’t to say “tell us about it online” but instead “are you completely satisfied right here, right now?”
That someone is a manager who matters.
I can remember every great manager I’ve had in my career. They didn’t just train me and let me go; nor did they only call me out with every mistake I made. Instead, they invested in me, to invest in the company’s results.
And the customer’s delight.
Alas, the manager is increasingly scarce today. There’s even a bizarre infatuation with “manager-less” organizations today – taking flat management too far and leaving nothing but bewildered employees, chaotic salespeople and discouraged customers in their wake.
That should change. The best companies I know are changing it. They’re investing in their management competence. They’re ensuring a few dollars of the budget go to upgrading their leadership’s social competencies, listening skills and training abilities. Companies who are changing the game are doing it through better management – not just buying more leads to disappoint or discard when they become too difficult.
There are a great many companies who understand the value of great management. So do their customers. They’re the ones who are preparing to win the next decade of customer loyalty. And royalties.
You don’t get a bowl of dry oatmeal with a great manager on duty.